Gemma Farrell has studied various styles of yoga, including Iyengar, Sivananda, Jivamukti, Yin, Insight, and Integral yoga. Her current approach to teaching yoga fuses the precise alignment principles of Iyengar yoga with the freedom and creativity of a Vinyasa Flow practice, and incorporates the deeper release stretching and meditative aspects of Yin Yoga. Gemma sees yoga as a vehicle for self-discovery and a means for increasing our awareness of the present moment, an opportunity to cultivate wisdom and compassion, and above all, as an invitation to foster a spirit of devotion and open our hearts to love and serve others.
Susan Finegold attended many kinds of yoga classes while teaching Engligh Literature in England. She found it enthralling, and decided to learn to teach it herself. Susan is trained to teach Iyengar-style yoga, and her classes focus on precision in the alignment of each poster as well as on creative ways to generate keener awareness in the practice.
For Elizabeth Scura, yoga easily became a way of life. Its fluid movement and ability to ease stress while opening the body and calming the mind became a necessity. After many years of experiencing back pain from scoliosis, she realized the incredible healing benefits of yoga when she replaced her chiropractor with a daily yoga practice. It was then that she decided to become a yoga instructor so she could help others as well. Prior to teaching yoga, Elizabeth spent her time working as a preschool and toddler teacher at Princeton Montessori School and the YWCA. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and loves photography, drawing and watercolor. In her yoga classes, Elizabeth encourages students to focus on breath mindfulness, emphasizing the importance of alignment.
Arthur (Ato) Co is a chef and martial artist who has been practicing the martial arts since he was eight years old. Originally Chinese, born in the Philippines, he studied Southern Shaolin style of Ngo Cho Kun kung fu at the Heng Han Kung Fu School in Manila. In his twenties, Ato followed his dream to become an American citizen and immigrated to the US in 1984. He owns Sakura Express Japanese Restaurant in downtown Princeton.
Inspired by the hypnotic, pulsing melodies and rhythms of the cyber hippie state of Goa, India is what brought Samuel Steward to the ancient science of Yoga and Inner Engineering. As a teenager his fascination with God and all things spiritual was influenced by the cultural practices that surrounded the electronic dance music movement of India’s Goa Trance Beach Parties. Through the experience of a collective state of bodily transcendence, similar to that of ancient shamanic dancing rituals, Samuel found that he was able to escape from the stress and anxieties of the common world and unlock the secrets of Love and Joy which were resting deep within his heart. To keep up with the physical demands of all night dancing he adopted the practice of Yoga Asana and soon realized that its benefits offered much more than a great set of abs and unending stamina. With the use of yoga, Samuel has transcended from ordinary living and discovered a way in which to live this life as a Magical Journey of unending Divine Observation and Self Expression. Samuel has studied with some of the most popular teachers in the world but the most powerful revelations of his practice have come from his relationships with students and the people I love.
Aya Owies had always been curious about yoga and after her first class, she was hooked. She quickly realized that she wanted to do yoga to better herself, and she also wanted to share it with the world. For Aya, yoga is not merely a physical practice, but also a form of self expression. Aya’s teaching is based on Pranotthan Yoga, which focuses on uniting the body, breath, and mind. It is her hope that her yoga students will find a a sense of balance and inner peace in their own lives.
Andrea Mecquel (“Mecquel”) is a practitioner and dancer who has been teaching yoga and movement in the Princeton area since 2002. With her degree in Psychology and years of work as a behavioral therapist, Mecquel addresses aspects of the whole person, body and mind, in yoga practice and movement. Rooted in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Jivamukti, Saraswati, and Bhakti traditions, and influenced by the study of modern dance and improvisational techniques, Mecquel seeks to train the body and mind for freedom in movement which comes from strength, range of motion, and awareness. Mecquel is currently studying dance and functional anatomy , Ideokinesis, and improvisational movement.
Brigitte Aflalo-Calderon has been teaching yoga for 15 years. She teaches both to adults and children in the US and France, where she resides part of the year. Brigitte believes that yoga can be part of our lives, at any age and in any condition. She sees yoga as a friend, always available, and strives to impart her approach to her students. Her classes offer a supportive environment conducive to nurturing body and soul. As a child’s yoga instructor, Brigitte encourages creativity, spontaneity and camaraderie. A native French-speaker, Brigitte peppers her classes with French words. When she is not teaching or traveling throughout the word, she is writing stories for children.
Dagmar warmed up slowly to yoga. Initially considering it simply as an exciting new way to keep fit, it took many hours on the mat for her yoga infatuation to grow into a more thoughtful pursuit. In the course of her teacher training, Dagmar came to appreciate the concepts that govern the various yoga traditions and the wonderful teachers who spread its teachings and keep the practice alive. Dagmar is drawn to group yoga because she loves the collective breath and energy that unfolds in class. Beyond her 200 hour yoga teacher certification, Dagmar is a registered Radiant Child yoga instructor. Off the mat, Dagmar has been a grant officer, a media analyst, a writer and journalist, and radio producer.
Nina Mongendre teaches Kundalini Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, and Mommy & Me Yoga. Her mission is to help students connect to the place within that is all knowing, calm and joyful. Kundalini Yoga is referred to as the Yoga of Awareness. It is a dynamic, powerful technology appropriate for all that is designed to trigger an experience of the unchanging Self. In each class, Nina uses movement, sound current, breath and meditation to relax and heal the mind and body, allowing the spirit to flow freely. Nina grew up in a spiritual household, and from an early age recognized a longing to teach and share this experience with others. At the age of 4, Nina had the blessing of spending time with Mother Teresa, an energy that is ever present in her life. Growing up in France, Nina’s early teachers were the books from her parent’s library on yoga, meditation, psychology and philosophy. Later, Nina studied Psychology, Art History and Religion at Brown University, after which she moved to New York, where the connection with Kundalini Yoga was born.
Heather Artman began practicing yoga in 2005 as a way to relieve stress and calm the mind, but quickly discovered the path of yoga extended well beyond stress relief. As she began to deepen her practice, she wanted to share what she had gained with others and made the life-changing decision to become a Registered Yoga Teacher. Her approach to teaching yoga combines a focus on alignment with the freedom and creativity of Vinyasa flow. Her mission as a yoga teacher is to provide a space and a practice that allows students to explore their own paths through breath awareness and mindfulness and she feels grateful to be a part of each student’s journey.
Having a personal yoga practice for over 17 years and a true passion for teaching since 2008, Ryah feels that each and every person can have a unique and positive relationship with yoga, by finding personal understanding and creating space through the practice – breath, mind, and body. Ryah has extensive training in Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa, Prenatal, Chakra Meditation/Yoga and Meditation. She also loves teaching Reggae Flow, Power Yoga, and Beginners Yoga classes.
Mikhail began practicing yoga while working on Wall Street as a quantitative portfolio manager. He found that yoga and meditation helped him manage the daily stresses and the demands of his job. Mikhail is passionate about sharing the practical and powerful tools that he uses daily to enhance creativity, increase focus, and lower stress. His teaching style is uplifting, pragmatic and compassionate. Mikhail is also a student of numerology, which appeals to his passion for numbers and data, and he enjoys helping others discover and evolve their personal patterns. Mikhail, his wife Nina, (who also teaches at Gratitude) and their daughter Alaya, recently moved to Princeton from Los Angeles, where they had been studying and teaching yoga and meditation.
Dan Fernandez focuses on yoga as the “middle-path” in life, specifically on the long-term benefits of yoga as a lifestyle that helps regulate the nervous system, reduce stress, bring mindfulness, and tone the body. Dan was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005. Because of this potentially debilitating disease, he began exploring yoga to improve the health of both his body and his mind. Now, through daily practice of yoga, he has found that he continues to maintain good health and deepen his spiritual understanding of life. It is his wish to share these benefits with others so that they too can learn how to heal and grow.
Stephanie Sprague, a Chicago native, recently moved to New Jersey from London where she first studied Move Within Yoga, a Hatha yoga based on the Sivananda sequence. She was certified in Yoga From Within Teacher-Training in May 2006 in accordance with the International Standards of the Yoga Alliance.
Yoga has turned Francesca Toffolo’s life into the most rewarding research project to date. She is amazed at the transformational power of the practice and excited to share this potential with the community at Gratitude.
Wendy Ludlum, a Classical Pilates Instructor, has been teaching Pilates since 1998. She wished for nine lives so that she could devote herself to this discipline. Walking into Gratitude Yoga, she felt a very special place shaped by the essence of Yoga practice and Compassion. She sensed that Pilates, a half sister to yoga, could find a home here. An adherent of Mindfulness Meditation and Lovingkindness, she felt a kindred spirit to the members of this beautiful community.